Lambak
Datuk,  Hiking,  Malaysia,  Short Trips

Gunung Lambak (510m): A Detailed Guide to Hiking Kluang’s Mountain

Gunung Lambak (510m) is located in Kluang District, Johor, Malaysia, 2 hours from Singapore. It is another extremely popular hike in Malaysia for both locals and Singaporeans. It is free to hike with no logistical hassle, short in duration (~2h of hiking), has a variety of routes and also only a short distance from Singapore. Additionally, one can easily combine it with some famous Kluang coffee for a day trip from Singapore! Don’t be confused with Klang (which is much further away)

However, the hike itself isn’t particularly spectacular. There isn’t much of a view at the top of the summit. It can also be quite confusing as there are many split-roads and isn’t much clear markers or directions for those who haven’t done it before! So I would suggest to go with friends who have done it before, or go on weekends so that you can ask the locals for directions.

Having said that, the hike can be quite interesting and challenging for those who are hiking for the first time or have not experienced the steepness of Malaysia hikes before! There are many locals who do Gunung Lambak on the weekends. In fact, it is akin to Singaporeans going to “Bukit Timah” or “MacRitchie Park” as it is really just in the backyard of Kluang.

Note: As of 2020, I have done Lambak….4 times. So this is a culmination of the various experiences

As there is no cost to hiking Gunung Lambak, the only budget concern you have is for transport and food! I think one can keep it within 30 SGD for a day trip if you DIY!

Why go there?

Lambak
  1. There is no need to register (as of 2020), so skip the administrative hassle of worrying about permits or entrance fees! It can be done on a very small budget!
  2. There are various routes and different “difficulty” levels
  3. On average, one can easily hike to the summit within 1 to 1.5h and be back down in 1 hour. The hike to the summit can be completed within 2 hours.
  4. Although there isn’t much of a view at the top, there is a small pavilion for you to sit and have a snack before descending
  5. Lambak is known to have some fresh breeze, especially in the morning during the forest portions, around 30 minutes in
  6. There are some steep ascents and descents, with some rope sections that can make it quite challenging, or fun for beginners
  7. It is located extremely near Kluang, which is famous for their coffee!
  8. It is situated near to Singapore so it can be easily done as a day trip from Singapore without having to drive, travel, or stay overnight
  9. There are clean toilets at the base, as well as food stalls and fresh beancurd!

How to DIY

For most Singaporeans, they would hire a driver or go together with a meetup group. For the Malaysians, most of them will drive. As Lambak is situated quite close to Singapore and to Kluang, it is easier to find public transport there. Having said that, public transport can be quite a hassle and takes up quite a bit of time.

Location

There is one main parking location near the trail head. Vehicles mainly park along the road also. I prefer to park in the carpark as it is near the toilets! You can start either via the carpark or the “trailhead”, which I will explain later below.

If you’re driving, just search for Gunung Lambak Trail Head and viola!

Public Transport

For my first trip, we went via public transport. It was quite an adventure due to the many switches we had to make. On hindsight, the time taken to travel via public transport was much longer than the hike itself.

In my opinion, unless you are bored, have time to burn or really cash strapped, it is really not worth it travelling to Gunung Lambak via public transport!

Singapore – Gunung Lambak

Here are the main steps anyway:

1) Take a transport (either bus/train/coach) to Kluang
2) From Kluang, the only way is to get a taxi to Gunung Lambak

Bus

The bus route usually requires 1 switch in Larkin terminal. Most people take ‘bus 170’ from Singapore to Larkin terminal in Johor Bahru. You can take from Queen Street or from Marsiling/Woodlands MRT. There are of course other bus choices like ‘Causeway Link CW2/CW1’ etc.

Once you reach Larkin Bus terminal, you have to get off to buy another bus ticket to Kluang. There should be a few options, make sure it is the earliest express bus to Kluang!

Frequency: Hourly
Cost: ~10.80 MYR or SGD 3.70 per trip
Duration: ~2 hours

Coach

Alternatively, you can take the coaches such as Starmart or The One Travel & Tours directly from Singapore to Kluang. There are 3-4 departure times per day.

This saves switching time but the ticket cost around SG $15 – 21.5 for the trip there. For a return trip on Starmart, it cost around SG $20.

Note: Prices are pre-covid 2020

Train

I have never taken the train from Singapore to Kluang, but from what I’ve read, you can do so by changing at JB Sentral. Kluang is just 3 stops from JB Sentral. So you can consider crossing the border to JB Sentral via bus, and then taking a train from JB Sentral to Kluang. The train is the one headed to Gemas operated by KTM.

Frequency: 4 times a day. Only 1 in the morning, 9.15 am
Cost : 14 RM
Duration : ~2 h

From Kluang to Gunung Lambak

Taxi

Apparently, there is a local bus on the way back but I have never seen it or taken it. So I would suggest to just take a cab. Once you reach Kluang bus station, there will be many taxis waiting around. The prices can vary and make sure they don’t rip you off! You can also consider using Grab if you wish. For a return trip, negotiate with the driver to come pick you up at a later time. Alternatively, get the driver’s number and call/whatsapp him once you are done with the hike!

Cost : 10-15 RM (1 way to Lambak)
Duration : 15 minutes

DIY Cost/Breakdown

Why do I think taking the public transport is not really worth it? This is my breakdown.

Cost Breakdown (estimated):
Bus 170 from Singapore to Larkin: $1.50
Larkin – Kluang (Bus): $3.70
Kluang – Lambak (Taxi): $4
Total 1-way trip cost: $9.20
Return trip: $18.40

Of course, if you are traveling with friends, you can save cost on the taxi. So a good estimate would be $15 for transport if you DIY and do not take the coach.

Time taken (estimated):
Bus 170 from Singapore to Larkin: 1.5h
Larkin – Kluang: 2h
Kluang – Lambak: 15 minutes
Waiting time buffer (for bus etc): 1h
Total time (1 way): ~4.75h
Return Trip: 9.5 hours

This is the problem I have with taking the public transport route. Sure you save a bit of money, but you would almost spend 10 hours on the road due to all the switches in transport. The custom crossing is already a hassle. The amount of time you spend getting up and down buses, squeezing with the crowd and purchasing tickets really drains you.

Would I spend 10 hours on a road just to hike 2 hours for a 510m summit?

The answer is a clear no.

I am saying this because I did this on my first trip and kinda regretted it after that.

It would make more sense to pay slightly more, to take a Starmart coach ($20 + taxi) and save some time. However, that would reduce your flexibility as you always have the time pressure of the coach timings.

Therefore, unless you are really on a budget, or traveling with friends and would like to experience Malaysia public transport, I would suggest to drive in yourself or to get a taxi/driver from Singapore.

Hired Transport

From Singapore

For most Singaporeans, if you have a group the best choice would be to hire a driver. It takes only around 2 hours to Gunung Datuk. The cost for a hired driver or vehicle can cost from 200-400 SGD for a return trip from Singapore. It depends on the type and size of the vehicle.

A good minimum group size for a reasonable cost would be around 5 pax. If you can get a return trip for around 250 SGD, it means 50 SGD per pax. You can also take a starex which means not having to get off the vehicle! It might seem costly, but your travelling time would only be around 4 hours in total, much smoother and more comfortable!

Of course if you have more people, it can be even cheaper.

Facilities and Fees

Entrance Fee: FREE!!
Toilets: Basic (with a hose and no shower head), but they are free and clean!

The toilets are located near the carpark just outside the water park. There are additional toilets inside the water park, but you will have to pay a fee of 5 RM to enter. The toilets in the water park have better showering facilities I guess, but I usually just use the toilets outside.

*There is no registration required
** This also means there are technically no official guides stationed there

Expenses/Budget

This is to give you a sense of how much Malaysian Ringgit to change to, or how much to set aside for a day trip.

If you have 1-2 basic meals there, you can set aside 3 – 5 SGD per meal. I ate breakfast at the famous “Original Kluang Rail Coffee” at the Kluang Railway Station and it was really cheap and good.

All you need to do is take the meal cost + transport cost to estimate a budget. I’ve combined it for a reference. Of course if you wish to spend more on meals then you should set aside more.

Public Transport DIY Way: 30 SGD
Coach + Taxi: 40 SGD
Private Transport: 70 SGD

Itinerary

Suggested Itinerary:
-> Leave Singapore at 5am
-> Reach Kluang at 7am to have a good breakfast at Kluang Rail Coffee
-> Start hiking at around 8.30am
-> Descend by 12pm
-> Head for lunch and reach back Singapore by 4 pm.

In fact, if you are greedy, you can make it a food trip by heading for an early dinner in Johor Bahru!

Trek Information

General Information

  • Peak: 510m
  • Total elevation: ~450m
  • Terrain: Mainly forest trail, with some steep ascents and descents and ropes along the sides to help
  • Walking distance: 5km (total)
  • Average time: 1.5h (1 way)
  • Basic shower/toilet facilities at the base

Routes/Trails

If you’ve read various accounts or seen the meetup events, you might have noticed there is this thing called “4 stations“.

There are 4 main points on the Lambak Trail which hikers like to refer to. They are the Telecom Tower, Big Tree, Summit, and False Summit.

Most people start at Gunung Lambak Water Park which is the main base and entrance to the park.

Due to the various pathways, there can be many different combinations. Hikers are usually split into 2 groups. Those who wish to do the 4 stations (the siao-on ones), and those who wish to summit and descend.

Basically, if you wish to walk around the whole mountain, do the 4 stations trail. For simplicity sake, I will cover only the trail to the summit and down, not to the other stations.

There are 3 main trails to the summit from the entrance at Gunung Lambak Water Park. They can be known as the easy, medium, and difficult trail. The trails do not really “start” from the entrance/ waterpark. They start from the huge “Gunung Lambak” sign, which is around 15 minutes away from the entrance.

The good thing about Gunung Lambak as compared to Gunung Datuk is the choice to descend via a different path. So as long as you are taking different routes, you will ascend and descend via 2 of the 3 trails. The most commonly used trail is the medium trail to the summit, and descend via the easy way.

Suggested route: Ascend via the medium trail, descend via easy trail

I have gone up the “Difficult” trail, and I wouldn’t advise it if it has rained the previous few days or is raining. It is extremely steep and have a lot of rocks and loose rocks also, so I deem it quite dangerous. I would personally advise against it and from my last hike, the route has been sealed off with a tape.

Trail Directions

Many other articles do not highlight the directions for Gunung Lambak. On my first time there, quite confusing at the start as there are many split-roads. In fact, I have met hikers or locals who can’t find their way to the summit. The split-roads do eventually lead the same way. As long as you are ascending, you are pretty much on the right trail. What you wish to avoid is to be on the path to the false summit, or to go on the “difficult trail”.

So I hope the following directions help you.

It is important to understand that it takes around 15-20 minutes to get to the big Gunung Lambak signage from the waterpark entrance. That in itself can be confusing too.

So this is the order:

Entrance -> Asphalt path -> Forest Trail Ascent -> Restpoint/Gunung Lambak Sign -> “Medium” Trail to Summit

1. Follow the asphalt path upwards.

2. If you come from the toilet/carpark, you will be walking right, crossing a bridge and meeting the other path.

3. The asphalt path will lead upwards. You’ll go past a small hut on the left, and a huge water fountain on the right. There should be this big banner in front of you. The asphalt path should become a trail path upwards just after the banner, with rock-like stairs/steps. As long as you turn left on the curve and ascend, or you are going straight under the banner, you should on the right path!

4. Ascend the steps with chains on the side. After that, you’ll ascend a forest trail. There might be a split path but it doesn’t matter. You’ll reach a junction where there are benches and a map of Gunung Lambak

5. Turn right at the benches/map and head upwards.

6. After another ascent, you’ll reach a flat clearing, with more seats, a coloured decorated pavilion on the right, a mini-pond in front of the pavilion and the huge Gunung Lambak sign in front!

7. This is the crucial part! The easy trail lies behind the huge Gunung Lambak sign, so don’t head in that direction unless you wish to take the easy path. That would be how people exit.

8. The path you wish to take is to the left of the mini-pond, before the signage. You’ll see benches on the left and a forest trail upwards, if you’re facing the Gunung Lambak sign.

9. Okay, we got the “easy trail” out of the way. There are TWO PATHS, the “Difficult” and the “Medium” trail.

10. The difficult trail should be blocked by a tape. The “Medium” trail should have a red sign, or some marker pointing towards it. Now you are finally on the right trail to the summit! From here it should take around 45 minutes to an hour on average for most people!

Detailed Trail Directions

I’ll try to put it with together with pictures to make it easier to understand. I realised I don’t have the right pictures for every section, so I screen-grabbed some pictures from Google in order to show the directions properly. The next time I am in Lambak, I’ll take better pictures.

Gunung Lambak Park Entrance

Gunung Lambak

You can see the Gunung Lambak Resort sign. This is the entrance to the waterpark and the carpark. You can choose to enter here, or go straight and turn left later at the other entrance.

Gunung Lambak
This is the other entrance

The above entrance is where most people ascend from! You’ll usually see alot of cars and some stalls outside. I prefer to enter from the carpark side as the toilet is situated there.

Gunung Lambak
Carpark entrance

Above is the picture of the entrance from the carpark. Head up the steps, and the building is the toilet. After that, follow the asphalt road to the right.

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The bridge

You’ll soon see this bridge. Go across the bridge and continue on the asphalt road upwards. This will merge with the route if you started from the other entrance.

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Asphalt Trail

The trail goes gradually uphill, very similar to Bukit Timah. There are most likely many families and casual hikers walking around. Follow the road, you’ll pass by benches and a small rest hut on the left.

Gunung Lambak

You’ll see a water fountain thingy on the right, and a huge banner. The banner is replaced every now and then but the size remains the same. Do not follow the curve to the right! Walk straight through under the banner and the forest trail starts!

Forest Trail Ascent

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Gunung Lambak

There are quite steep rock steps, some chains to help you and a small stream flowing down on the right. After the steep rock steps, it will be a steep forest ascent also! Non-stop going up!

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Lambak Map with Benches

Gunung Lambak

You should ascend until you reach a map of Gunung Lambak with 2 benches. Most people rest here as the ascent can be quite steep. It takes maybe 15 minutes to reach here. Do note that the numbers written on the map are in distance not altitude!

From here, just turn right of the map and there will be a gradual ascent until you reach the restpoint with the huge Lambak signboard.

Huge Lambak Signboard

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Some people consider this the midway point, some consider this the first rest point, there are others who consider this the end. Most really casual hikers, hike until here and go back, especially families or elderly. There is a nice pavilion and lots of stone tables and chairs to sit. In front of the pavilion is a mini-pond, followed by this huge “Gunung Lambak” signage. It should say Selamat Datang ke Gunung Lambak, which basically means Welcome to Gunung Lambak.

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This is where the 3 routes to the summit starts.

There might be people who are coming down from behind the signage. That is the “Easy” trail, where you would want to be descending from.

The path to take is the “Medium trail”. So instead of heading towards the sign, turn left at the mini-pond. A trail will lead up past the trees and a gradual ascent will start. This is the slightly confusing part as it might be hard to spot, so do ask the locals around or follow other groups.

The “Difficult” trail is side by side with the “Medium” trail. I believe the “Difficult” trail should be taped off (the last I know) and the “Medium” trail has an arrow or some marker pointing the direction.

Gunung Lambak

“Medium” Trail to Summit

Now, it is quite straight forward. Once you have entered the trail, there are no more split roads left. It takes around 45 minutes to the summit, maybe 30 minutes if you are quick.

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The route is just ascending all the way, with almost no rest points or flat ground in between. It is a forest trail, where you would climb up the roots. It can be quite muddy, or slippery especially if it rained the night before or while you are hiking.

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At some sections, there are ropes to help. You wouldn’t really need them if you have strong legs I guess! It isn’t really as steep as Datuk or other hikes, but the ascent can still be tiring.

This is especially so because it is very humid most of the time! However, I’ve noticed that after ascending past the first section, there will be a point where a nice forest breeze will provide some respite, especially if you are hiking in the morning.

Summit

Lambak

The summit was quite “meh” the first time I reached it. There is a small clearing, a pole that everyone loves to climb to take pictures of it, and a view of the surrounding areas. A large telecom tower will almost be the first thing you see, and a small shelter lies just behind it.

Lambak

Well, of course I shouldn’t expect much from a short hike! Now, to find the path to descend.

The telecom tower should be on your right as you walk to the shelter.

Lambak

Follow the trail past the shelter (meaning the shelter is on your right) into a narrow path. It means you simply walk straight, and that is the path to the descent. It is also the “Easy trail” if you walked up from behind the huge Gunung Lambak signboard!

From what I know, there is a path if you turn left (instead of walking straight). This leads you on another descent, but this time to the “Big Tree”. Remember the 4 stations? The “Big Tree” is one of them. I’m not very interested in forest trails, so I’ve never done it. Apparently it is another 40 minutes away. If you wish to clock some distance, you can walk there and walk back up again. On a rainy day, that path is known to have lots of leeches. Another reason for me not to try it.

The Descent “Easy” Trail

The first part of the descent is quite nice. The path is a gradual descent, with nice tall trees and foliage. One can easily run down. Do take some time to enjoy this section.

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I guess that is why this is the “Easy trail”. However, it isn’t that “easy” after all, because there will be 2 steep descent sections before you arrive.

Descending is a lot harder, as the trail isn’t that nice. There will be huge gaps, some muddy and slippery parts. It would be good to use some of the ropes for support, or hands at times.

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If you descend fast, it takes around 30 minutes to reach back to the huge Gunung Lambak signage.

Reaching the signage does feel like it is finally the end of the hike, because it is a relief for your poor knees on the constant descent. However, it isn’t! Because there is still another 20 minutes of descent to the entrance or carpark!

I find that I always forget my way from the huge Gunung Lambak signage on the way down. The way back is the same, but there are some split-roads that you might not have noticed before. Essentially, just take the path that is descending and you will eventually reach the bottom even if you go a different route!

Kluang

Most of the places to visit in Kluang are near the Parkson Mall or the bus terminal. Of course you can visit further area for other food places, but you’ll need a car or take a taxi. It is not that nice to walk around Kluang and there is no public transport within the city. Most people drive.

Some people visit the art murals / street art in Kluang. They are all near the city centre, or near the bus station. You can see them in pictures here! I am honestly more interested in food than taking pictures with street art, especially after a hike!

Food

To be honest, Kluang doesn’t have that great food options as compared to Malacca (duh). Especially for lunch, post-hike, I think they are just okay and can be quite expensive. I have tried most of the various famous/highly recommended food there, from the beef noodles, to Satay, to Zi Char, to western food, to Ikan Pedas etc. I think they are okay, but nothing really mind-blowing. In fact, you can have time to travel back to JB to have food instead. The only thing that stands out is Kluang Rail Coffee (for breakfast!)

But, here are a list of food places I would recommend people to go post hike

1. Tangkak Beef Noodles – In Kluang, the irony.
2. Yean Kee Beef Noodles 
3. Botak Curry Mee
4. CheeseU Bistro & Dessert Bar – Halal Western Food Fusion, has aircon and a clean toilet. I usually go for the Ayam Peyet which is quite worth. Rest of the stuff is abit expensive in my opinion, but if you want somewhere comfortable this is the place!
5. PKH Kopitiam – Good food choices, famous for the old school beef noodles there too!
6. Fendy Burger – Huge burger, but opens only at 5pm onwards

Most people also buy some confectioneries like Tau Sar Piah from Kluang. It is quite famous over there for freshly made ones, especially when it is such a short distance from Singapore. Most of them are sold out before 3pm and the best is to call them to reserve! You should visit these 2 places if you are intending to get some goodies.

1) Yuen Fatt Biscuit
2) Tong Huat Confectionery

Original Kluang Rail Coffee

Lambak

To me, the most important thing is having the famous Kluang Rail Coffee and breakfast in the morning! There are a few shops that claim to be the original Kluang Rail Coffee, but I think the most “original” of them all is the one at the Kluang railway station (duh again). The prices are cheap, and it is honestly extremely crowded! I have to try to reach by 7 am to even have a seat.

It might be quite overwhelming if it is your first time there, as there is only 1 counter. You might order and not end up getting your food! If it is crowded, there is a long queue for a takeaway. The trick is to secure a table first. Once you are seated, the service is extremely fast!

There are 2 areas, one by the road and one at the counter/railway platform (like in the picture). The area in front of the counter is much more comfortable and cooling as it has fans!

I usually go for my standard breakfast, soft boiled eggs with toast and coffee. Their toasts are superb and they have a variety of buns. On top of that, they have quite nice Nasi lemak and Mee rebus!! Kluang Coffee also has a different taste which I can’t find in Singapore so I love it! There is a certain texture and depth of flavour to it.

The best thing is that prices are really still decent!

You can see some pictures of the food from here: https://cavinteo.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-authentic-kluang-rail-coffee.html

I have been too busy finishing my food everytime to bother taking pictures. To me, this has always been the highlight of my trip to Kluang/Gunung Lambak ha!

There are only 2 other bloggers whom I refer to and respect their opinions. So do refer to them if you are looking at other food choices!

1. https://johorkaki.blogspot.com/2019/12/kluang-food-sightseeing-guide-10-best.html
2. http://ieatishootipost.sg/kluang-johor-food-to-eat-things-to-do/

Conclusion

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Is Gunung Lambak a beginner hike? Yes it is.

I was already an experienced hiker when I first did Gunung Lambak, I was like “Huh is that it? This is a leisure stroll!” It was a good workout but I expected more.

Having done it a few more times and bringing different people up, I’ve think objectively, it is a beginner hike but still challenging at some moments. It is not a straight walk in a park like Bukit Timah.

This is especially so if you have not gone hiking before, or wish to do something very long and hard. It is also suitable for families or kids who wish to be a bit more adventurous.

Therefore, it is ideal as a starting point for people who have not done hiking and want something more doable. In fact, this is way more doable than Gunung Datuk. It has more rest points and you could u-turn at the big signboard if you wish also. It is half the duration of Gunung Datuk and not as challenging. For me, I did it easily in 1 hour, so I think the average is 1.5h (1 way).

Additionally, it takes less time than Gunung Datuk so it is more comfortable as a day trip. You can start at 5 am or 7 am from Singapore instead of doing the overnight journey, and still easily reach back by 5 pm. Or, you can even have dinner in Johor Bahru before coming back to Singapore!

The only downside is that it can be too easy for experienced hikers and there isn’t much of a view, wind or places to sit at the top. Even more so when it is crowded and hot. It really does make you want to descend instead of chilling at the summit.

So if you are looking for a short getaway with a short hike, or a food trip with a hike, Gunung Lambak is for you. It makes a good morning workout/daytrip/weekend hike, especially if you combine it with some wholesome coffee, Malaysian half boiled eggs and toast for breakfast!

I am now running trips to Gunung Lambak via my meetup group: https://www.meetup.com/Little-Monsters-Travel/ so feel free to join if you are interested! Additionally, if you wish to hike Gunung Lambak privately and can’t find a reliable driver, I can help arrange for you. Please do contact me via email: [email protected] / Website/ Whatsapp +65 97511216


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